For me Twitter is another way for this “wee acorn” to mingle with the “giant oaks” of my profession.
What is a Hashtag?
In general a hashtag is a word or phrase used in social media conversations which begin with a pound (#) sign and which are written without spaces in between. i.e. #kentbrooks. The main use of a hashtag is to bring conversations on the same topic into a single thread to make it convenient for interested individuals to view and compare ideas. Twitter is not the only platform that uses hashtags. They are also use by Google+, identi.ca and Instagram. It is likely important to note that LinkedIn is one the major social platforms which does not use hashtags. Chris Messina is credited with being the first to propose using the hashtag to aggregate topics of interest. Messina’s 2007 hashtag proposal is shown below:
Conference hashtags which I have seen and tracked include:
#innama League for Innovation at the Community College 2015
#aaccannual American Association of Community Colleges
#NACCE2013 National Association of Community College Entrepaneurs 2013
#edu13 Educause 2013
#broadbandwyo Wyoming Broadband Summit
#mtmoot = Mountain Moodle Moot
Examples of how to use
An tweet telling everyone you are coming to the conference would look like this:
First notice the character count shows I still have 16 of my 140 characters available. My experience tells me to leave at least a dozen characters unused. If you use all 140 characters in your tweet, your followers will need to edit your tweets before they can add in their comments and retweet. I have seen various studies that indicate that you get 15– 20% more engagement with shorter tweets and Twitter indicates that that tweets under 100 characters see a higher engagement rate.
A conference hashtag allows conference attendees to interact during the event. You also commonly see hashtags used during other live events such as sporting events or political events.
One of my favorite resources for finding out what are the most popular hashtags at a given time is found at Hashtags.org. It has both a free and a paid service. the free service shows what is trending over the past 24 hours. With the paid service you can also store and monitor hashtags over time.
Another service which is owned by Hootsuite also provides a great resource for finding hashtag trends is What the Trend. They not only tell you what is trendng but they also provide a quick explanation of why it’s trending.
How Hashtags Are Created?
It doesn’t take fancy tools to apply a hashtag to your messages. All you need to do is type your text and then insert the hashtag at any part of the message and then send. Of course, the hashtag is not just any word. It has to be a carefully thought target keyword that is relatable, so that other Twitter users will be inspired to use it for their own, as well.
When the hashtag you’ve created has developed a following, clicking on it will lead you to the list of Twitter users who have adopted it in their own conversations. You can also communicate with newfound Twitter friends through here. In a way, an effective hashtag creates a community online. They are also great for monitoring visibility of your message on multiple social media networks.
There are certain letters and characters that are not allowed for use with hashtags. For example, if all the characters in your hashtag are numbers, as with #1234, it won’t work. You can read more about the don’ts on What Is Not Allowed With Hashtags.
Tips On Making And Using Hashtags
Here are some tips to make sure the hashtags you’re using are achieving their objectives.
1. Is the hashtag new?
Search.Twitter.com will lead you to a list of hashtags that have already been used in the past or are currently active. If you find an existing conversation on the hashtag you’re eyeing, you might want to go with something that is equally targetted but not as frequently used.
2. Go easy on the sentiments.
Some hashtags have failed to fly because they poked too much on the emotion of the public, as with the word ‘love’ or ‘hate’. These two are too strong words to summon so if you’re going to use them to create a following, make sure that there really is a large sense of love or hate for the topic. Politicians have often used ‘love’ to start a Twitter thread on them and found the results ineffective and downright disappointing.
3. Use industry keywords.
Brands and popular industry terms are highly relatable and, more likely than not, Twitter users will find use for such hashtags in a particular event. The controversial hashtag #NBCFail for instance may not have been actively searched by Twitter users but the fact that it carried a brand name made it easy to micro-bloggers to jump in and create a massive conversation around it.
4. Be careful where you use your hashtags.
Designer Kenneth Cole (@KennethCole) made a huge blunder in 2011 when he inserted the #Cairo hashtag in the same message he was promoting his newest collection.
The tweet read: “Million are in uproar in #Cairo. Rumor is they heard our new spring collection is now available online at httpL//bit.ly/KCairo -KC”.
After much backlash from the public, Cole has removed the offending tweet and issued an apology on his Facebook Page.
Hashtag abuse is not uncommon, although with proper etiquette orientation it should be out of conversations entirely.
Here’s Twitter‘s official statement on hashtag abuse.
“The following behaviors and others like them could cause your account to be filtered from search, or even suspended:
- Adding one or more topic/hashtag to an unrelated tweet in an attempt to gain attention in search.
- Repeatedly tweeting the same topic/hashtag without adding value to the conversation in an attempt to get the topic trending/trending higher.
- Tweeting about each trending topic in turn in order to drive traffic to your profile, especially when mixed with advertising.
- Listing the trending topics in combination with a request to be followed.
- Tweeting about a trending topic and posting a misleading link to something unrelated.”
I am looking forward to engaging in Meaningful Social Conversations with you on Twitter while at #INNMA 2015. Everytime I get to thinking I am way behind with all of this technology stuff i get a question that reminds me that most of us are struggling to adapt to this hyper connected world of ours. We are just at different levels and ulitimately we need each other. As long as we continue to learn and continue to help each other. See you in Boston.
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